A few days ago I told you about our very successful cat adoption event. (See this link for previous blog http://wp.me/pGbf7-1m). We pulled TWENTY SEVEN “90 day” cats from BARC and got them to safety. The reasons we pulled these cats were two fold: 1) to save the cats who were destined to die immediately; 2) to free up more cage space for the many cats pouring into BARC. We had been assured that if we returned any of these cats to BARC, they would be killed, so we worked very hard to make sure this didn’t happen.
Many members of the community came together to get these cats to safety. We almost completely cleared out the two free roaming cat rooms which would have given a lot of new space for the many cats pouring into BARC. Then, on Monday, we learned that Elena Marks & Gerry Fusco plan to convert the two, newly emptied, free roaming cat rooms into OFFICE SPACE, A COMPUTER ROOM, OR A CLINIC. This means cats will now have LESS room to live than before! BARC is overflowing with cats. It is UNCONSCIONABLE that anyone would even consider taking away any living space for any animal at BARC. BARC leaders should be looking for more places to house animals, not taking away space from them.
In addition, No Kill Houston and the other citizens did NOT organize this adoption event and spend an enormous amount of time and money only to provide offices, etc. for BARC leaders. BARC is an animal shelter. Their first priority should be to find more ways to save animals, not making themselves more comfortable. The community worked hard to SAVE LIVES. I want to know when BARC leaders will start making decisions that actually save lives as well? I, for one, am sick and tired of waiting.
Elena Marks and Gerry Fusco have been in charge at BARC since July and there has been no change in the kill rate. The only things they have done is to make it more difficult for volunteers, foster parents and rescue groups to save lives.
I am writing our Mayor and City council and telling them that the above actions, as well as many other actions that Marks & Fusco have taken recently, are intolerable and do NOT save lives.
I URGE EACH OF YOU TO CONTACT THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL as well, even if you do not live in Houston. We must, must speak up and make our voices heard before BARC goes any farther backwards than it already has. I’m attaching my letter below. Feel free to use it or write your own. Email addresses for the Mayor and city council are also below. I urge you to also FAX them. Fax numbers are on our website at NoKillHouston.org.
PLEASE DO NOT BE SILENT AND ALLOW THIS TO CONTINUE!
No Kill Houston’s Letter to Mayor White and City Council
Dear Mayor White and City Council Members:
This past weekend No Kill Houston and Frisky Paws Rescue organized a large offsite adoption event in a high traffic area of town. We pulled every single “90 day” (meaning their time was up) cat out of BARC and brought them to our adoption event. The reasons we pulled these cats were two fold: 1) to save the cats who were destined to die immediately; 2) to free up more cage space for the many cats pouring into BARC. We had been assured by BARC that if we returned any of these cats to BARC, they would be killed so we worked VERY hard to save them.
Over the weekend, we adopted out 14 of these cats and arranged for the remaining cats to go to foster homes or rescues so that they were not returned to BARC. This event was a HUGE undertaking that required many volunteers working many long hours and donating many supplies and funds. Many members of the community came together to get these cats to safety. At the end of the 3 day event, we were all exhausted but pleased that we helped save so many lives.
Then, on Monday, I learned that Elena Marks & Gerry Fusco plan to convert the two free roaming cat rooms (that we just emptied by pulling 90 day cats) into office space, a computer room or a clinic. This means cats will now have LESS room to live than before. BARC is overflowing with cats. It is unconscionable that anyone would consider taking away living space from any animal. BARC leaders should be looking for more places to house animals, not taking away space from them.
In addition, No Kill Houston and other citizens did NOT organize this adoption event and spend an enormous amount of time and money only to provide offices, computer rooms or clinics for BARC staff. BARC is an animal “shelter”. Their first priority should be to save animals, not make themselves more comfortable. We worked hard in order to SAVE LIVES. I want to know when BARC leaders will start making decisions that actually save lives as well? I, for one, am sick and tired of waiting.
None of the “procedures” that Marks & Fusco have come up with have been designed to save lives; most only harass and punish the volunteers, foster parents and rescue groups. It appears that none of their new “processes” address the real problems at BARC, and that is and always has been, the employees and leaders who don’t really care about animals’ welfare. Over FOUR MONTHS since Mr. Fusco was hired, citizens are STILL seeing entire Wards of animals going ALL DAY without food and water or having their kennels cleaned. Employees leave for the day without feeding animals even though the South Ward is overstaffed. No supervisors check to see that animals are properly cared for and it appears that neither Mr. Fusco nor Ms. Marks verifies this either.
We know that distemper and other diseases are still rampant as our foster animals are still dying from these preventable diseases in large numbers. It appears that Marks & Fusco have not addressed proper cleaning protocols yet or, if they have, they are not hiring the right type of employees nor are they supervising them to make sure that procedures are followed. And contrary to what Elena Marks recently stated, foster parents and rescue groups are NOT “selling animals and making a profit”. The medical expenses, that we pay ourselves for these animals, are incredibly high. In fact, many of us have gone deeply in debt to save animals. We do NOT pull animal out of BARC to make money. We pull animals out to save them from certain death at BARC. This, by the way, also saves BARC money as it is well known that it costs the city $125 to take in, house, feed and then kill an animal. Yet Marks & Fusco continue to make it increasingly difficult for us to get animals out. It appears that Marks & Fusco would rather spend $125 and kill an animal, rather than turn it freely over to a foster or rescue group who would spend their own money to save it.
As further proof that basic “processes” for BARC’s own employees are not in place or not being followed, on Monday 11/30/09, BARC ran out of litter boxes. I find it utterly absurd that BARC could run out of a critical supply that it needs every single day. It seems like ordering critical supplies, in a regular, timely manner, should have been one of the very FIRST “processes” that Marks & Fusco addressed. Perhaps Marks & Fusco should have worked on this process rather than on the new rules/procedures for volunteers, foster parents and rescue groups; especially since those particular areas “were” working well until Marks & Fusco’s involvement.
BARC scheduled only one offsite adoption location in November even though Marks & Fusco know, or they SHOULD know, that a large number of people are NEVER, EVER going to go to BARC to adopt. Offsite adoptions are critical to getting animals out alive. The kill rate has not decreased significantly since Marks & Fusco have been running BARC. This fact should prove that most citizens are NOT going to go to BARC. It doesn’t matter how many statutes or murals Ms. Marks plans there–not enough people are going to go to BARC to adopt to stop the killing.
So, over four months after Elena Marks lobbied you all to hire Mr. Fusco, and you all spent $183,000 of our tax money to do so, I want to know exactly what Fusco & Marks have done that is saving lives at BARC because I am not seeing any change. BARC still has the same problems and BARC is still killing just as many animals.
The most important element at a shelter is a hard working leader dedicated to SAVING LIVES. BARC has never had this and again, BARC does NOT have this with Marks & Fusco. And BARC will NOT have this if Elena Marks is allowed to hire the next Bureau Chief because SAVING LIVES is not a priority to her.
Marks & Fusco are failing BARC miserably and this means YOU are also failing BARC and tax payers with this $183,000 fiasco. When will someone at city hall step up to the plate and hire a leader that makes saving lives the NUMBER ONE priority? There is one person who has applied for the Bureau Chief position who has actual experience turning a high kill shelter into a No Kill shelter. The shelter she runs now as a SAVE rate of 92%. Why aren’t you all BEGGING this woman to work at BARC? She is one of the few people who could actually make a difference.
Bett Sundermeyer, President
No Kill Houston
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